I'm feeling down in the dumps since yesterday's awful news of Andrew Breitbart's sudden death. The loss of the 43 year-old husband, father, and culture warrior is sad enough in itself, but it also struck a nerve personally. Thanks be to God, I haven't experienced this kind of grief myself, but a while back, someone close to me lost her husband in a freak accident while going about the normal business of life. Like Andrew Breitbart, he was big and strong, in the prime of life, full of vigor one minute and gone the next.
We all know it can happen to anyone at any time; our loved ones might be taken by an aneurysm in the night or get hit by a bus in the morning commute. But when we lose someone suddenly the shock and utter incomprehensibility of it is overwhelming.
(The ugly, sub-human responses from certain quarters to Breitbart's death were also dispiriting, to say the least. Jonah Goldberg writes, "I won’t repeat them because the printable ones aren’t representative, and the representative ones aren’t printable." I won't dwell on them, either, beyond saying that though I know evil exists, I'm still surprised by some of its manifestations.)
Anyway, I found this article and thought it might be interesting to some of you: Coping with Sudden Death by Therese Rando, PhD. A bit of it:
In both sudden death and anticipated death, there is pain. However, while the grief is not greater in sudden death, the capacity to cope is diminished. Grievers are shocked and stunned by the sudden loss of their loved one. The loss is so disruptive that recovery almost always is complicated. This because the adaptive capacities are so severely assaulted and the ability to cope is so critically injured that functioning is seriously impaired. Grievers are overwhelmed.More here. From another article, the special features of dealing with a sudden death:
If you are such a griever, you probably are suffering extreme feelings of bewilderment, anxiety, self-reproach, and depression, and you may be unable to continue normal life. You had no preparation and no time to gradually absorb the reality that the world was about to change dramatically.
Instead, there was a sudden destruction of the world you used to know. There was no gradual transition, nor time to make changes in yourself, your expectations about your life, or your world. In sudden death you are called upon to face a massive gap between the way the world should be, with your loved one alive, and the way the world is. The person whom you loved, and who provided you with security, is taken away without any warning. This is a major violation of your expectations. Your sense of the world and of control is assaulted. This is not to say that these issues are not confronted by those whose loved one’s death was anticipated. The difference is that they have had a valuable period of anticipation that placed the death in the context of events that were predictable and made sense. Although they experienced pain when their loved one died, they could see what caused the death. Ideally, they had been preparing for the death and dealing with their feelings about it. They were able to finish unfinished business with their loved one, to say “I love you,” and to do the things they wanted to do for the person before he died. While there certainly are many problems and emotional demands associated with losing a loved one in an anticipated death, at least when the death comes, the grievers’ coping capacities have been directed toward dealing with that expectable end. The loss makes sense.
After a sudden death, the loss doesn’t make sense. The critically important understanding of what happened is missing. The sudden shock of losing someone we love without warning so stuns us that we cannot comprehend what has transpired. Consequently, if your loved one died suddenly, you may be unable to grasp the situation and find it difficult to understand the implications of the loss. Accepting that the death occurred can be difficult, even if you intellectually recognize that it happened. The death may continue to seem inexplicable for a long period of time. You repeatedly will have to go over the story of the accident or of the heart attack to try to make sense of the loss after the fact.
Because you were not prepared for the death and it had no understandable context, you will try to deal with your lack of anticipation by putting the loss into a series of events. You may find yourself looking back at the time leading up to the death and searching for clues that could have indicated what was to come.
Life is very rough. If you're so inclined, pray for the suffering.
- Sudden death usually leaves the survivor with a sense of unreality that may last a long time.
- Sudden death fosters a stronger-than-normal sense of guilt expressed in “if only ...” statements.
- In sudden death, the need to blame someone for what happened is extremely strong.
- Sudden death often involves medical and legal authorities.
- Sudden death often elicits a sense of helplessness on the part of the survivor.
- Sudden death leaves the survivor with many regrets and a sense of unfinished business.
- In the event of sudden death, there is the need to understand why it happened. Along with this is the need to ascribe not only the cause but the blame. Sometimes God is the only available target and it is not uncommon to hear someone say, “I hate God.”
Thanks to Michelle Malkin for the Buzzworthy link. Include her family in your prayers, too.
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